Many words in English are seen and used as synonyms. Included in this basket of confusion are the words conversation and dialogue. I will not even begin to attempt to define conversation except to note how different the word is used across genders, generations, and cultures. Dialogue on the other hand has a very specific definition applicable to most situations. Dialogue occurs when both parties listen with the intent of learning. Without the mutual learning intent whatever the exchange of sounds is, it isn’t dialogue.
I’m not trying to nit-pick or get hung up on semantics. I am concerned that you will fall into the same trap I frequently find myself; listening but not hearing, sharing conversation little understanding, and making mistakes others had made before me.
There are many reasons not to like dialogue. First, it requires one to engage in the heart of the relationship at hand. Second, our establish patterns may come under scrutiny. Third, change may be in order! Everything seems to be pulling us towards community (relationship) and away from self.
Jesus knew he had a problem with Simon Peter. He understood Simon Peter had a problem with himself. The conversation which followed is a good example of a dialogue full of hope and opportunity, if both parties listened and learned.
“He [Jesus] then asked a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’
‘Yes, Master, you know I love you.’
Jesus said, ‘Shepherd my sheep.’” (John 21.16)
You and I will face a cruel, difficult, and often challenging world today. Embedded in the chaos and pain are opportunities to share dialogue. We may not find the words easy yet they offer the opportunity of encouragement, learning, and compassion. Dialogue can be wonderful, especially when one takes on the struggle. We can because of one simple fact; you and I are unconditionally accepted by God just as we are. In this context dialogue can only help. Today and tomorrow we’ll still stand we are today; in Divinity’s presence. Hope rests in our willingness to make a difference for others.
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